Pubblicato in: Economia e Produzione Industriale, Problemia Energetici

Dodici superpetroliere in zavorra. Il petrolio è un problema complesso.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2019-02-27.

Pere Borrel del Caso. Sfuggendo alla critica.

Il problema del petrolio o, più in generale, dei combustibili fossili, mal si presta a generalizzazioni avventate che sicuramente sembrerebbero facilitare la comprensione dei fenomeni ma altrettanto sicuramente tendono ad enfatizzare  aspetti parziali quasi estinguessero il tutto.

Uno dei più misconosciuti problemi è l’intimo legame che intercorre tra il crudo estratto e la raffineria che lo trasformerà in idrocarburi utilizzabili. Ogni tipo di estratto necessita di essere lavorato in una sua propria raffineria, che potrebbe essere collocata in un altro continente. In parole miserrime, il produttore di petrolio conta ovviamente molto, ma senza l’accesso alle raffinerie, conta poco o punto.

«Ships are sailing without cargo after producers cut exports»

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«Booming U.S. shipments still need to go to Asian refineries»

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«They are slowly plowing their way across thousands of miles of ocean toward America’s Gulf of Mexico coastline»

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«As they do, twelve empty supertankers are also revealing a few truths about today’s global oil market.»

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«In normal times, the vessels would be filled with heavy, high sulfur Middle East oil for delivery to refineries in places like Houston or New Orleans. Not now though. They are sailing cargo-less, a practice that vessel owners normally try to avoid because ships earn money by making deliveries»

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«The 12 vessels are making voyages of as much as 21,000 miles direct from Asia, all the way around South Africa, holding nothing but seawater for stability because Middle East producers are restricting supplies. Still, America’s booming volumes of light crude must still be exported, and there aren’t enough supertankers in the Atlantic Ocean for the job. So they’re coming empty»

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«The U.S. both exports and imports large amounts of crude because the variety it pumps — especially newer supplies from shale formations — is very different from the type that’s found in the Middle East. OPEC members are likely cutting heavier grades while American exports are predominantly lighter»

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The great oil paradox: too many good crudes not enough bad ones.

«The shale boom has created a world awash with crude, putting a lid on prices and markedly reducing U.S. dependence on imported energy. But there’s a growing problem: America is producing the wrong kind of oil.

Texas and other shale-rich states are spewing a gusher of high-quality crude — light-sweet in the industry parlance — feeding a growing glut that’s bending the global oil industry out of shape.

Refiners who invested billions to turn a profit from processing cheap low-quality crude are paying unheard of premiums to find the heavy-sour grades they need. The mismatch is better news for OPEC producers like Iraq and Saudi Arabia, who don’t produce much light-sweet, but pump plenty of the dirtier stuff.

The crisis in Venezuela, together with OPEC output cuts, will exacerbate the mismatch. The South American producer exports some of the world’s heaviest oil and Trump administration sanctions announced this week will make processing and exporting crude far more difficult. American refiners are scrambling for alternative supplies at very short notice.»

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Già.

Problemi che, se banalizzati, sembrerebbero essere semplici, all’improvviso evidenziano dei paradossi conflittuali: le vecchie regole sono inadatte a descrivere il fenomeno attuale.


Bloomberg. 2019-02-23. Twelve Empty Supertankers Reveal Truths About Today’s Oil Market

– Ships are sailing without cargo after producers cut exports

– Booming U.S. shipments still need to go to Asian refineries

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They are slowly plowing their way across thousands of miles of ocean toward America’s Gulf of Mexico coastline. As they do, twelve empty supertankers are also revealing a few truths about today’s global oil market.

In normal times, the vessels would be filled with heavy, high sulfur Middle East oil for delivery to refineries in places like Houston or New Orleans. Not now though. They are sailing cargo-less, a practice that vessel owners normally try to avoid because ships earn money by making deliveries.

The 12 vessels are making voyages of as much as 21,000 miles direct from Asia, all the way around South Africa, holding nothing but seawater for stability because Middle East producers are restricting supplies. Still, America’s booming volumes of light crude must still be exported, and there aren’t enough supertankers in the Atlantic Ocean for the job. So they’re coming empty.

“What’s driving this is a U.S. oil market that’s looking relatively bearish with domestic production estimates trending higher, and persistent crude oil builds we have seen for the last few weeks,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank NV in Amsterdam. “At the same time, OPEC cuts are supporting international grades like Brent, creating an export incentive.”

The U.S. both exports and imports large amounts of crude because the variety it pumps — especially newer supplies from shale formations — is very different from the type that’s found in the Middle East. OPEC members are likely cutting heavier grades while American exports are predominantly lighter, Patterson said.

Gasoline Glut

By industry standards, American oil is considered light and low in sulfur, making it great for churning out gasoline, with the result that a glut of the automotive fuel is starting to build up. By contrast, Middle East crude often needs more processing — not a problem for Gulf of Mexico plants that were designed specifically for that task — but it can have a smaller gasoline yield.

“There is still going to be a lot of growth from U.S. tight oil this year,” said James Davis, director of short-term global oil service at Facts Global Energy. “This will continue to push U.S. exports up.”

Shippers are counting on the U.S. exports to help the tanker market withstand supply restrictions by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia. Industry analysts, who actually raised their estimates for what they think the ships will earn this year after the OPEC+ pact was announced in December, are citing rising American shipments as a contributing factor.

There are usually three or four empty supertankers — very large crude carriers in industry jargon — that would sail empty to the U.S. at any one time, according to shipbrokers.

The shift has produced knock-on effects around the shipping market. Daily earnings for the VLCCs, which can haul two million barrels of oil, on the benchmark Middle East-to-China route doubled since last week to $29,494, according to Baltic Exchange data.

“Following a fixing frenzy from the U.S. Gulf Coast late last week, most available tonnage in the Atlantic basin has been soaked up,” said Espen Fjermestad, an analyst at Fearnley Securities AS in Oslo. “With ships ballasting West, rates have shifted up also in the East.”